By Gershom Ndhlovu
President Mwanawasa, Legal Affairs Minister George Kunda and the MMD in general should realise that their constitutional amendment exercise through the NCC is doomed right from the beginning. Credible players like the NGOCC, FFTUZ and now political parties like the PF have decided to shun the process.
Of course, the two lawyers at the top and their party will go ahead to amend the constitution but what they must remember is that in the next four years when there will be a change of guard, an MMD president or a president from another party for that matter, will start the process all over again.
President Mwanawasa's predecessor, Frederick Chiluba (is it not incredible that he has joined those opposing Levy?) amended the constitution in 1996 with which many people were thoroughly dissatisfied with, and it is the same constitution that Levy decided to overhaul when he came to power a few years later. Unfortunately, this is the same process causing unnecessary tension among interested parties such as civil society and opposition political parties.
Of course, there are some NGOs and church organisations with dubious credentials that appear, for a few crumbs, to endorse the machinations by the MMD government to manipulate the constitution making process. These organisations are given prominence by state-owned media which are themselves complicit in the manipulation, while the views of opposing organisations are left out.
This whole affair is not helped by Mwanawasa's capacity to belittle people opposing him, and surprisingly, not even the Willa Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission which he himself appointed, has escaped his verbal attacks in his justification for the setting up of the NCC. The Mung'omba commission itself was appointed amid controversy and a number of organisations declined to be part of it. From the foregoing, it is clear that the whole process has been fraught with controversy right from the beginning and what has been at the fore of this has been the mode of adopting the final document.
By pouring cold water on the Mung'omba CRC recommendations and subsequent setting up the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) leading to the passage of the NCC Bill and mandating members to go round the country to explain the process yet again, makes the whole exercise not only duplicitous but extremely expensive to the tax-payer who has had to bear the huge cost of the CRC. One would have thought that a one-off Constituent Assembly as recommended by the CRC, would have adequately served that purpose.
The groups shunning the NCC have a genuine fear of an in-built MMD majority which would render their voices in the whole exercise meaningless. It would also appear as though that Mwanawasa, Kunda and Co. have a predetermined document that they want to spring on the public through the same NCC.
President Mwanawasa, by pushing through the NCC in its proposed form, will squander a golden opportunity to bequeath the nation a people driven and well thought out constitution that could stand the so-called test of time. A few years from now, Mwanawasa, Kunda and those supporting the process now, will be the same people speaking out against the constitution they want to enact now when they realise the folly of having passed it.
I have said it before that it is important for our leaders to learn from history. It is pointless, like Mwanawasa and Kunda are doing now, to blame Chiluba and Kaunda for past constitutional iniquities. It is pointless for Kunda to pour venom on people like General Miyanda for speaking out against the current constitutional making process, for he together with Mwanawasa, will be judged even more harshly because they will have had an opportunity to avoid the perilous path they have chosen.
Everyone with a conscience should shun this process. Allowances that people will derive from it are nothing compared to the effects a faulty constitution will bear on the whole nation.